Choosing a roof covering for your garden building

The roof you choose for a garden office, summerhouse or garden studio is a key aspect of its design. From a distance and especially from the upper floors of your house, it’s often particularly visible, and different materials perform differently too. 

There’s a wide choice of roofing materials for your garden building. Here are some of the most popular to consider, from the classic to the high-tech.

Emily Log Cabin

1. Bitumen felt shingle tiles

If anything is the default choice, it’s got to be there. These quality tiles are a whole lot more durable than the felt you would use on a common or garden shed.  They are hard wearing, absorb the sound of rain and are very waterproof. 

They’re easy and quick to fit, and tend to be the least expensive option: no wonder, these residential standard tiles are widely used for houses as well as outbuildings in the USA. Our shingles come in a choice of five colours to suit any garden setting: black, blue, green, red and brown. The overall effect is of a slate with an attractive textured look.

Bitumen felt shingles

2. Cedar shingle tiles

Since the colonization of North America, cedar shingles have offered strength, resistance to the elements, insulation, and beauty as a roofing material. A wooden roof offers a look of quality that few other roof coverings can match.

With its natural resins, cedar offers a very long-lasting finish (when properly maintained a roof can last 30-40 years). At Garden Affairs we use Western red cedar, slow-grown in Canada. Try and avoid cheaper, quick-grown cedar, it is knottier, and has a much shorter life expectancy. Cedar roofs will require maintenance from time to time to remove moss, leaves or mould in damp conditions. Avoid placing a wooden roof directly underneath a tree as it will be more likely to decay than an unshaded roof.

Although cedar is more expensive than bitumen shingles and needs an expert to install, their strength and slight ‘give’ helps them weather storms and hail. They are, obviously, made from renewable material, and wood naturally performs well as a temperature insulator.

If your garden office or gazebo has a New England or rural feel, or you just love the look of natural timber gradually weathering to a silver grey, these could be for you.

Cedar Shingle Roof
Octagonal Garden Gazebo

3. Slate effect roof tiles

A relatively new option to consider are these classic grey tiles which are indistinguishable from real slate but made from recycled plastic mixed with limestone. They’re really hard-wearing and resistant to everything the weather could throw at them.

Cast using multiple moulds so they have individual features just like real slate, these tiles out-perform the real thing by being light, easy to cut, resistant to fading and cracking, and if you drop them they don’t shatter into a thousand shards!

If a cool, crisp charcoal slate finish will set off your garden building to a T, take a look at these.

Slate effect roof tiles

4. EPDM (Ethylene propylene diene terpolymer)

The ideal choice for a flat-roof garden building. EPDM is a very durable rubber roof membrane that has a long life, typically 30-50 years. EPDM rubber roofs are usually made from recycled rubber, thus making them environmentally friendly.

EPDM naturally repels water and resists even the worst of weather conditions. They hold up well against wind, water, and even fire, as most are fire retardant. They are also ozone and UV stable, making the materials themselves nonperishable. EPDM Rubber is also naturally breathable allowing vapours to escape, thus preventing blisters.  

epdm rubber roof membrane

5. A green roof

Our fully-installed sedum green roofs are popular and it’s easy to see why. They’re the best possible option if creating a wildlife-friendly studio is your priority, and they help your building sit harmoniously in a garden setting, even ‘disappear’ into it if that’s your preference.

Green roofs are a combination of a waterproof rubber membrane (EPDM), a water-retentive fleece sublayer and soil, edged with bargeboards and planted up by our expert installers. It’s a long-lasting option and their thickness makes them highly effective insulators, keeping noise out and maintaining a comfortable, even temperature inside.

However, the weight of green roofs means they’re not available for every cabin design – a projecting canopy is not suitable, for example, and the roof angle can only be up to 18 degrees. You’ll need to specify this roofing choice at the outset to ensure it will work in practice and adequate strengthening can be incorporated.

Once established, our specially selected sedum varieties give year-round colour and only need occasional weeding and watering in very dry weather.

Green roof garden building

Talk to an expert

Speak with one of the friendly experts at Garden Affairs to decide on the right roof finish for your garden building.

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